Lucky Larry Lunchbox will wave the green flag over the beginning of NASCAR’s Daytona 500, but won’t he be surprised when Tesla Motors is in the field?
Tesla Motors’ research team found Larry Lunchbox, a real guy and a real NASCAR fan. He will have the honor of starting the Daytona 500 race with the waving of the green flag in front of 200,000+ fans and on February 22, 2015.
Two of those cars will be very special though, and sure to cause a stir in the stands, as they will be pure electric vehicles, powered by Tesla Motors technology.
The two vehicles, numbered 100 and 101, are being built under close supervision by Tesla Motors engineers. They won’t be typical Tesla Model S, though, since even a 30-minute supercharge would essentially kill any chance of victory.
A typical Model S in a race crash would also present its own very special challenges for rescue and recovery crews. The battery pack will be hot-swappable, so refueling ought to take no more than a few seconds in order to keep up with conventional racers.
NASCAR fans are probably going to bristle when they see two electric vehicles on the track. Hopefully some famous colors will help: the #101 Duracell car, the Copper-Top Tesla, will closely resemble the colors of the winning car of the 1962 Daytona 500.
The #100 Department of Energy car, identical except for color scheme, will race alongside the Duracell car and 43 other racers. The two Tesla Motors racers will be entered as experimental and won’t be eligible for prizes or placing for 2015, but will be official entrants in the 2016 races.
Racing electric cars reminds me of those early drivers who had nothing but a round tube and four wheels to get the race done. Then, it wasn’t about electronics or design winning the challenge, but about the drivers. Take Aussie legend Jack Brabham, for example.
I think one could easily fit a driver such as Alan Jones or Peter Brock, true legends of old-time racing style, in a Model S, just to teach new generations how to really win with limited resources. I recently read an interesting article about Australian racers (read: legends) recently, and got really inspired by how much can be done with little if you have the will.
I think racing is to become an important chapter in the electric car evolution, since it will open the eyes of designers to how things can be improved by taking their machines to limits that you won’t see on the streets or on test tracks.